Foo Fighters ‘Wasting Light’ – Review

9 May

The grass is green, the sky is blue, 1+1=2, Barack Obama is president of the USA and everybody likes Foo Fighters. These are facts. FACTS! Even people who can’t stand arena rock seem to fall at the feet of Foo Fighters; pop fans, metal fans, dance fans, hip hop fans – everyone! It has a lot to do with Dave Grohl’s deserved image as the nicest man in rock, but even more to do with his history as Nirvana’s drummer. He is the underdog done good; he went from the guy sitting at the back of the stage, to frontman of one of the biggest bands in the world and he did it without making a single enemy.

But mainly Foo Fighters are beloved cos they make brilliant music and the band’s latest, ‘Wasting Light’, is especially brilliant. I always knew Foo Fighters were a great singles band (they’ve probably got a claim to having made more classic singles over the past 15 years than anyone else within the same time frame) but this is a great album. actually it’s a great singles album as well, because almost every one of these songs sounds like a hit. Yep, this genuinelycould be a greatest hits – ok, it would probably be the greatest hits volume two, the one that collects the singles missed off greatest hits volume one, but still a greatest hits nonetheless.

Very few rock bands can pull off this type of music without coming across as idiots; these days hard rock bands seem either to have their tongues firmly in cheeks or take themselves way, way too seriously. Foo Fighters are not a super serious, straight-faced band but they are serious about what they do. They never come across as pretentious or arrogant and yet neither are they the class clowns, they aren’t doing this for fun. Simply, they just do what they do and they do it better than anyone else.

This is an album that sees them revisiting various strands of rock they have explored over the years; ‘White Limo’ represents a return to the thrash influenced punk of Dave’s youth, and ‘Bridge Burning’ (the album’s opener) is exactly the kind of riff centric belter that has been a part of the foo’s set since the early days. ‘Rope’ is yet another example of a flawless Foos single – massive chorus, infectious riff, anthemic lyrics, crystine production and solos to bang your head along to. Fantastic. ‘Arlandria’ will sound equally at home on daytime radio playlists when it  inevitably gets released as a single; it’s a power pop smash with a verse that sounds like any other band’s best chorus, and an actual chorus that takes it to another level altogether.

It has to be said that the album itself isn’t as perfect as the chorus to ‘Arlandria’, it falls over the same hurdles that most modern rock albums do. Innovation and experimentation were clearly not on the band’s mind when making this album, and that’s fine, but over eleven songs they are in danger of repeating their formula one too many times. ‘Miss the Misery’ and ‘I Should Have Known’ sound a lot like filler, and I just wonder if it wouldn’t have been more beneficial to insert an acoustic number onto the album at that point, y’know, nothing too drastic, just something to shake the album up a little.

The music is kind of old-fashioned and generic but we forgive the band that (and actually thank them for it) because they pull it off with such craftmanship and charm; unfortunately the same cannot be said for the lyrics which are just badly generic. It feels like Dave is trying to tick off every cliche in the book – he should have known better, he’s learning to walk again, he’s burning bridges, it’s only a matter of time etc. I guess the songs are easy to remember so that thousands of fans will be able to sing along at Wembley, and I suppose that is the point at the end of the day, afterall Dave has never claimed to be a great poet. But still, it would have been nice to see them pushing themselves a bit more in that department.

‘Wasting Light’ has been called a return to form by some critics, and as this is the first studio album I’ve heard from the band start to finish (shock horror!) I can’t really comment on that. However, the band are certainly on form, whether they have rediscovered that form or not, I don’t know. If you like your rock music loud,  heavy, melodic and d.u.m.b without being dumb, then you are going to love this album. Ok, it’s a bit formulaic and old-fashioned, but when It’s done as well as this who cares? Besides, he’s the nicest guy in rock. ‘Nuff said.



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